tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC December 8, 2011 4:00pm-5:00pm PST
elect anybody who is crazy, and they are crazy. >> michael baisden, thank for you joining us. can watch week days on 78 radio stations across the country. thanks for watching. i'm al sharpton. "hardball" starts right now. romney goes negative. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews out in minneapolis. leading off tonight, mitt's pit bulls. mitt romney has unleashed his attack dogs and they're nipping at newt gingrich on two fronts. today top romney surrogates john sununu and jim town hit on his record, saying, he has a habit of saying outrageous things and doesn't really care about conservative principles.
and last night new jersey governor chris christie took a not-so-subtle dig at the thrice married former speaker's personal life, saying romney is a father and husband who won't embarrass america. mitt sics the dogs on newt after at the top of the show tonight. here's another potential problem for newt? and why haven't we heard much from that class of '94? you know, those republicans who rode into office under newt gingrich? they're awfully silent as their one-time leader surges in the polls. what do they know that most voters don't? then, president obama's fighting off those republican charges that he's an appeaser, an appeaser. listen to the president talk tough at his news conference today. >> ask osama bin laden and the 22 out of 30 top al qaeda leaders who have been taken off the field whether i engage in appeasement. or whoever's left out there, ask them about that. >> well, that's pretty somber. let's take a look at the obama record, by the way, from killing
bin laden to getting health care reform done, and find out just how strong a case the president does have for re-election. and herman cain, rick perry, michele bachmann, which republican presidential candidate has been the butt of more jokes on late-night tv? well, someone actually tracks this stuff. we've got the answer tonight in the sideshow. but let me finish tonight with some advice. be careful, progressives, for what you wish for. i'm talking about those wishing for newt gingrich to be the republican candidate. we start with mitt romney on the attack. republican strategist steve schmidt worked on the bush/cheney 2004 campaign and ran the 2008 campaign. he's also an msnbc political analyst. and jennifer donohue is a senior fellow at the eisenhower institute and a "huffington post" contributor. both of you, thank you much for joining us. it's great to have two people on who really know the republican party well. let's talk about the numbers. another day, another new set of poll numbers showing newt gingrich gaining strength among registered republicans. take a look at the new quinnipiac data. in florida, a wide lead for gingrich over romney where he
had to win, 35, gingrich, 22, romney. in ohio, this is fascinating. gingrich is 36% now, twice romney's 18. in pennsylvania, my home turf, gingrich is well ahead. i can't believe these numbers in pennsylvania. 31 over the guy we thought would be strongestth the 10% mark in any of these three states. it really looks right now halfway through december as a two-person race. let's go steve schmidt, first of all. it really looks like newt right now. >> he's the clear front-runner for the race as president. he has commanding leads, chris, nationally. he has them in iowa, he has them in south carolina, he has them in florida. but this is precipitating now the beginning of the part of the campaign where all of the niceties are dropped and the actual records and the dissonance between reality and rhetoric starts to get explored.
you've seen that over the last 24 hours. >> if people like the profile of a really tough gladiator like newt, do they care how much scar tissue he has? >> i don't think they care how much scar tissue -- >> let's let steve finish. i'm sorry. let steve finish that thought, then jump in here, jennifer. steve, does it matter -- if you want a pit bull, does it matter whether the guy's got a few scratches on him? >> listen, i think he's a person of great talent. he's also a person of great flaws. i think for republicans, what's healthy is that we have a discussion about these talents and flaws in the context of a primary, and not be reminded of them or rediscover them in the context of a general election. it's important that republican voters know what they're getting with gingrich. this is the caveat emptor phase of the campaign. so it's a very healthy discussion that's beginning now. >> listen, jennifer, fire away here. newt gingrich, does it matter if he's been married three times to most republican voters? does it matter?
by the way, i think romney made a big mistake in that ad the other day, i'm going to venture here, don't criticize somebody for being converted to another religion. mitt romney spent two years as a missionary, converting people to his religion. if newt had converted to mormonism, to the lds church, would he be criticizing him for this? no! watch this. this is dangerous territory. i want you to get in here for a minute, jennifer, and then we'll show the ad. your thoughts? >> i think the bottom line is, every time romney brings up religion, he loses votes in iowa. i think it's dangerous and he knows it. i think that's why he hasn't gone all in in iowa. and he had an opportunity to do that about a month ago, but he didn't do it. and i think gingrich has gained traction in iowa. it's looking like it's his to lose in iowa. now he's creeping up on him in florida, which is dangerous. if gingrich can make this a two-man race through florida, if romney doesn't do decisively well in new hampshire with a ten-point lead, we're going to see a very prolonged race. and now we're seeing huntsman coming up a bit in new hampshire, which has got to be
scaring the romney folks quite a bit. >> let's take a look at that not-so-subtle swipe. a new romney ad running in iowa right now highlights his long marriage to his wife and his longtime membership in his church, a clear blow to newt's conversion to roman catholicism a couple years ago. let's watch this tricky business. >> i think people understand that i'm a man of steadies in and constancy. i don't think you're going to find somebody who has more of those attributes than i do. i've been married to the same woman for 25 -- oh, excuse me, for 42 years. i've been in the same church my entire life. i worked at one company, bain, for 25 years. i left that to go off and help save the olympic games. if i'm the president of the united states, i will never apologize for the united states of america. >> what do you make of that, steve schmidt? i have to tell you, i think that is dangerous territory, to criticize somebody for being converted to another religion. most of us are the religion of
our parents, fair enough. but if someone sees the light and wants to go to another religion, we cherish that right. that is essential to being an american, the right to choose your religious faith. here's a guy knocking a guy for conversion, again, which is something that the lds church is heavily into, which is conversion. >> well, i don't like any religious task entering into these primaries. i think it's antithetical to our american values. i think it is dangerous territory. and i think there's a lot stronger ground. but i do think that part of the point that the ad raises up, i'm not sure, chris, that the republican primary voters are looking for the good guy in the race or the nice guy in the race. i think they're looking for the tough guy in the race. and so, i'm not sure that he's playing the game that at the end of the day, is going to be determinative to the outcome of the election. now, that being said, you know, the fact that gingrich was engaged in an affair with a staffer while he was impeaching the president is going to be an issue that's talked about in the context of a general election,
an erratic nature. a nature where he says one thing and does the other. the new first message, which you saw -- >> but don't you think that's old news? don't you think, steve, that that's old news by now? if you ask most republicans, and they take a gut check on who the conservative in the race is, their gut says it's gingrich. they've known him since the 90s. they've had decades to absorb the baggage. they want a fighter, they want a leader, they want someone who wants smaller government. and romney doesn't represent any of those things, those core republican values that get primary voters -- >> i'm talking about this -- i'm talking about this in the context of a general election. the middle of the election where these issues will matter. >> but i don't think voters are going to go there. >> and republicans should think long and hard about that in the context of a primary. >> so what happens if you look ahead to a general election? let me just try this, on your side of the argument, jennifer. suppose you do talk about what may come next fall when the president debates newt. the minute he goes and takes a jab at newt's past, newt can come back and say, mr.
president, i've been fair to you, i haven't brought up reverend wright or bill ayers, or your early activities in politics, i haven't questioned your statements of the past, and then the public roots for the challenger, at that point, don't they? jennifer, jump in here. if you bring up somebody's past, you better be ready to defend yours, and i think that's tricky business for all candidates, i think. >> i think you're right. that's tricky business. and the other thing, and i'm just going to throw it right out on the table is the issue of race. i think that gingrich can probably play the race card against obama, just as obama could play the mormon card against romney. there are going to be undercurrents to this campaign that are ugly, that are really below the fray that are going to come up. gingrich has -- if his biggest problem is he has predigested information about his past, i think voters can live with that. i'm not saying he's necessarily a strong candidate, i'm not saying he's stronger than
romney, but i think he's been digested and either he will be spit out or he will be regurgitated. whatever happens, i think gingrich is a tested, known entity, and the surprises that we're hearing from romney are ridiculous, when romney hasn't even introduced himself to the voters, and he's been holding back as though he has no money. he hasn't even told his own narrative, if he has one. >> okay, let's take a look, having digested that cud, let's go right now to new hampshire governor john sununu. he had this to say about newt gingrich in an interview on "the daily rundown," right here. let's listen. >> i believe newt gingrich is a gingrichite. all he cares about is newt gingrich. i don't think newt gingrich cares about conservative principles. newt gingrich cares about newt gingrich. >> what's the firepower right now of 72-year-old john sununu, steve? >> well, i think he's laying the predicate for a broader argument about the difference between the things that newt gingrich says and the things that newt
gingrich does. you know, for example, fannie and freddie mac, an excellent example of this, and how many other issues there are out there. you know, for example, in the weeks ahead, whether newt gingrich be compelled to release his client list? will he be compelled to disclose the amount of money he made in the private sector, working on issues that were opposite of what he advocated when he was speaker? and i think that he's laying the foundation for a pretty robust look at newt gingrich's character in front of republican primary voters. >> but, steve -- >> i would say one thing to jennifer in iowa -- jennifer, hold on a second. let me say one thing. in iowa, one of the things that was clear in the polling is there's not a lot of awareness yet of newt gingrich's fannie and freddie issues. although it's been talked about at the national level, it's not penetrated to the electorate -- >> every time, steve -- >> -- robust discussion on this -- >> jennifer, hold on for a second. you can't interrupt like this, jennifer. you've got to let him finish his thought. go ahead now. your turn now. jennifer, go ahead.
>> i was just going to say, every time they bring up gingrich flip-flopping or switching positions on issues or outsourcing jobs or making bad decisions, it will be posted right back on to romney, who's had more positions than there are positions. and who's basically worked for bain, which outsourced jobs and fired a lot of employees. if you ask people in massachusetts, where i'm sitting, how the health care law is going over or whether bain capital is a positive thing, you hear the answers no. and i think people who know him best really don't trust him. and conservatives are getting to know him a little bit, and they feel squeamish about it. and in new hampshire, the state next door, i wonder for mitt romney if he's peaked already, and if this is going to become a tighter race with huntsman and paul becoming factors. >> look, i think, steve, i think you're right -- steve, i think you said something really brilliant about two minutes ago, which is, they're not looking for a good guy, the republicans right now, they're looking for a tough guy. that's it, isn't it?
isn't that what you both agree on right here? >> i mean, there is no doubt that newt gingrich is saying the things that the republican base wants to hear, but i think there's a lot of time left in this process. i think that because of the rules change in the republican primary, you have a setup here where you could see a pretty long nomination fight. there are some organizational questions that i think are just starting to come up, you know, for example, ballot access issues with regard to gingrich having a close race that are potentially problematic for him. but i think that there are -- look, chris, there are 31 freshman members of the republican conference who are in districts that barack obama won. what are the implications for them with gingrich as the nominee of the party in the general election? and i think that a lot of the people, as you pointed out, who served with newt gingrich in
that class of '94 have been conspicuously silent, because they were troubled by erratic leadership, and he was deposed by that. >> steve, we're -- >> -- all of this will be talked about. >> we're doing a whole segment on that tonight later in the show. you two guys are great together, especially when you disagree. but i think you're more in agreement than you admit tonight. newt gingrich is what they want right now. six months from now, they may want to want somebody else, but now's when they're starting to vote. steve and jennifer, have a nice holiday. coming up, president obama is on firm ground politically as he pushes for the payroll tax extension, obviously, people want a tax cut. unemployment's down, his base is still with him, and he's fighting back against republican charges, i think quite effectively, that he's an appeaser. let's look at the obama record as he makes his case for re-election. that's coming up right here, the talking points, basically, the best case for obama coming up in a minute. i'm here in minneapolis, headed towards the finish line of my tour for "jack kennedy: elusive hero." i had close to 2,000 people today here at a great event at westminster town hall forum. what a group, what a setting. monday it's on to new york and the 92nd street "y" and then back to d.c. and the national
more numbers now from that new quinnipiac poll. and it shows that newt gingrich would be a weaker general election candidate than mitt romney. but not by much. let's check the "hardball" scoreboard. first to florida. mitt romney has a three-point lead over president obama right now, 45/42. but president obama leads newt gingrich down in the sunshine state by 46/44. in ohio, the state we all watch forever, it's romney with a one-point edge on the president, 43/42. gingrich posts the same numbers, 43/42. that is so important, they do as well in ohio. pennsylvania, obama edges romney by three, 46/43. but his lead over gingrich, who was born in the keystone state is much bigger, 48/40. that's fascinating too. we'll be right back. her do i. solution? td ameritrade mobile trader. i can enter trades on the run. even futures and 4x. complex options, done.
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welcome back to "hardball." as we showed you at the top of the show today, president obama confronted yesterday's romney criticism that his foreign policy, obama's, is one of appeasement, with a sharp reminder of his enormous success in the war on terrorism. but the president's been racking up even more s holiday looks like a big winner, either way, win or lose, not just for him but for the democratic party. well, today's labor department numbers show that the number of people applying for unemployment benefits fell last week to the lowest level in nine months. that's good news for the country. a new survey shows that obama's support from minorities in the crucial 2012 swing states remains strong. that's important. and the nonpartisan congressional budget office reports that obama's 2009 stimulus bill, which republicans love to blast him for, saved and created jobs and spurred the economy. how's that? how do you like those apples? anyway, the health care law, which republicans also blast him for and vow to repeal, has also been helping seniors save money on prescription drugs. that too from the nonpartisan
cbo. on top of all that, a new poll out today from gallup shows that republican enthusiasm for this coming election is waning. their excitement about voting in 2012 has dropped nine points since september. how will that affect the 2012 race? lots to chew on here. eugene robinson, an msnbc political analyst and pulitzer prize winning columnist for "the washington post", and ron reagan, author of "my father at 100." gene, it's great to have you on. let's start with the devastating reply from the criticism from romney yesterday that the president's strategy is one of appeasement. a terrible thing to say about any president. let's listen. >> ask osama bin laden and the 22 out of 30 top al qaeda leaders who have been taken off the field whether i engage in appeasement. or whoever's left out there. ask them about that. >> you know, gene, i think about
what weighs on a president of either party is the lives lost in these combat operations, the risks taken even with drones and all the effort we've had on the front to keep a strong edge to our fighting forces overseas. and then to have some guy like mitt romney, who actually has no military experience in his family, to just come out and take a shot at him like that, and call him neville chamberlain with his umbrella, giving away europe to hitler. i don't know, do you think that mitt romney knew what he was saying? >> i don't know. that's the kind of thing this didn't used to happen, chris. there used to be an understanding that we have one foreign policy, and you may agree or disagree with what the president's doing, but you don't come out with what he's doing. but the fact is, as president obama said, he's not an appeaser, just if you look at the record, he's more of an assassin, actually, if you want to talk about the way he sees terrorism. he has gone out to kill the al qaeda leaders. and i don't see how you can call that appeasing anybody.
>> let me go to ron on that. go ahead, ron. >> factually, it doesn't hold water because of what he did with osama bin laden and, you know, even the drone flights over iran, you could argue is, you know, an example of being tough on rogue states and things like that. but it's the response of the republicans to things like that that become a kind of force multiplier for obama. you remember when he got osama bin laden, and instead of just congratulating him and saying good for america, the republicans start whining about it and trying to take credit for it and claiming that it's only because bush tortured people on his watch that we were able to do that. it's their reaction to his success that multiplies the effect of his success, obama's success. >> and also, he surged in afghanistan to the dismay of some of us on the left, he's kept the troops in iraq for another four years. they're only coming out now. afghanistan, he's increased the troop complement, he doubled it, practically. he's pushing -- gene, talk about. you know these kinds of -- talk about the chinese front.
we're even getting tricky -- we're getting a little pushy over there in the far east. >> yeah, we are, we're getting very pushy. and actually, the last week and a half, i was actually in china, and they've taken notice of the president's tough new rhetoric and what seems to be a kind of different attitude toward china. you know, politically, i think, at least on the domestic front, that tends to serve to inoculate the president, i think, against charges from the republicans that he's somehow soft on china, as if soft or hard is really going to kind of change the nature of what's going on in china or the fact that our two economies are so interrelated that, you know, what can you do? >> i agree with you so well. even the metaphoric use of words like "tough" and "soft" don't work anymore. here's a democratic priorities usa group with a new ad airing in iowa and on national cable that features ronald reagan, the president, making the case for the wealthy paying their fair
share in taxes. let's listen to this iconic moment. >> so far, the republicans support taxing the middle class instead of the wealthy. one republican disagrees. your thoughts, sir? >> we're going to close the unproductive tax loopholes that have allowed some of the truly wealthy to avoid paying their fair share. they sometimes made it possible for millionaires to pay nothing while a bus driver was paying 10% of his salary, and that's crazy. do you think the millionaire ought to pay more in taxes than the bus driver? >> ronald reagan supported millionaires paying their fair share. don't you? >> ron reagan, i just love the way he tossed his head, like he did characteristically when he made that, bus drivers, cab drivers, and seemed to put some body english into that. >> yeah, it's true. it just shows you how far the republican party has come since then. and you know, of course we've got the payroll tax cut extension here, where the democrats and president obama are really tying the republicans
in knots. and more than that, revealing their hypocrisy. i mean, here's the republican party, the modern republican party, which never met a tax cut it didn't like, and tax cuts don't have to be paid for, because they magically pay for themselves, yet all of a sudden when it's a tax cut that benefits the middle class and it's being proposed by president obama, well, they're not so enthusiastic about it. and maybe we better pay for it, perhaps by firing 200,000 federal workers! that would be good for the economy too, i guess. >> gene, one last question about enthusiasm. ron just mentioned it. what do you make of the lowered enthusiasm for this race coming up by republicans is it they don't seem as -- once they got a look at the whites of the eyes of the actual candidates, they're not too thrilled about this war. >> yeah. i think that may be the most significant figure of all the figures we've been through, chris. the enthusiasm gap was really worrisome to democrats. it looked like republicans were just kind of loaded for bear for this election. that's no longer true.
they have seen the candidates, and, you know, the numbers are getting better for obama. a unemployment's getting better and things seem to be easing a bit in terms of the crisis. so if this enthusiasm gap isn't there, republicans' chances go way down. >> i guess the question is how far -- we're out of time. we're out of time, ron. i got the last word here. i had a great line here. now i've got to use it. it's a question, gene, of how far you can push your finger in your mouth and still vote. anyway, they're really taking a look at these candidates. yeah, they're gagging on them. anyway, thank you, gene robinson and thank you, ron. more time next time, ron. up next, there have been a lot of laughable moments in this presidential campaign. so far, which candidate do you think has been the butt of more jokes on late-night? that's ahead in the sideshow. you're watching "hardball," only on msnbc. [ male announcer ] what can you do with plain white rice?
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back to "hardball." now for the sideshow. first up, all in the family. candace gingrich jones, the half-sister of newt gingrich, appeared last night on "the rachel maddow show." jones, who is gay, discussed how newt was not in attendance when she recently ghot married. let's listen to that. >> he did make a political point of saying on "meet the press," at one point, if you ever got married, that he would not go to the marriage. he would not go to the ceremony. i understand that that's the case, that he didn't go. >> he was invited, yeah, absolutely, we invited he and calista. they happened to be in some other continent on the day of the actual ceremony, so -- >> is that hurtful or? >> we still got a gift. >> was it from tiffany's? >> i'm not at liberty to say. >> i understand. very discreet. love that. >> well, newt took heat earlier this year, of course, for running up that tab at the high-end jewelry show of that name, tiffany's. his half-sister, by the way,
also didn't beat around the bush in saying that she would be an obama supporter come 2012, regardless of who's topping the ticket on the republican side. and that brings us to tonight's big number. as the presidential race continues to the heat up, we all know who we can depend on to make light of it, late-night tv. so just as many of the republican candidates have had their day in the sun when it comes to poll numbers, michele bachmann, she's been at the top, rick perry, herman cain, you know the drill, have also held the spotlight when it comes to providing material for the likes of stewart, colbert, "snl," and more. and there's one who's been leading the pack in that area so far. you won't be ready for it, but here it is, ready for it? mitt romney has been on top, getting over 19% of the late-night mentions since the start of 2011. newt's down at fifth. but also as his popularity starts to go up, i think he should be prepare for a firestorm of late-nights when the jokes are all on newt. but just over 19% right now late-night mentions go to mittster, romney.
that's tonight's big number. and i bet it changes very soon. up next, why do so many republicans who came to power under newt gingrich in '94 have a problem with him now? why is newt disliked by so many of his former colleagues? that's ahead. you're watching "hardball," only on msnbc. hey... there's mom! hey, let mom try. ready, go! ♪ yeah, rock on, mom! [ male announcer ] sometimes a hint is all the wrapping a gift needs. wait a minute...i... [ laughs ] [ male announcer ] the lexus december to remember sales event is here, but only for a limited time. see your lexus dealer for exclusive lease offers on the 2012 rx 350 and, as a gift from lexus, we'll make your first month's payment. at bank of america, we're lending and investing in communities across the country, from helping to revitalize a neighborhood in brooklyn to financing industries that are creating jobs in boston or providing funding for the expansion of a local business serving a diverse seattle community
here's what's happening. police in virginia are still trying to unravel events near the virginia tech campus that left two people dead, one of them a police officers. witnesses asa man walked up to and shot the officer while he was conducting a traffic stop. a second body nearby may be that of the gunman himself. he may have taken his over life. jon corzine appeared before congress today for nearly three hours of questioning.
meanwhile, the senate rejected duelling republican and democrat proposals for extending the tax holiday. officials are refusing to comment on videos that allegedly shows a surprisingly intact surveillance drone. and finally it looks like basketball is back. nba players and owners ratified a new collective bargaining agreement, ending a five-month lockout. now back to h"hardball". welcome back to "hardball." newt gingrich is basking in his recent surge as the front-runner status, but if you ask the people who know and have worked with him in congress, the former speaker of the house is far from a favorite to win the nomination. the man who masterminded the historic republican revolution back in 1999, 1994, rather, picking up 54 seats in the house of representatives, led the
republicans in an erratic and often undisciplined fashion, according to congressional republicans interviewed by the associated press and elsewhere. and so, as the associated press reports today, republicans in congress are unnerved by the prospect of a gingrich nomination. been there, done that, they say. many republican voters may not love mitt romney, but republicans with a memory seem to hate newt gingrich. perhaps that's too strong a word, we'll see. what would it mean for the party if newt is the head of the ticket? sam stein is with the "huffington post," and dana milbank is a political columnist with "the washington post." sam, this gradual seepage now of commentary from people who knew newt in his earlier incarnation, in the first chapter of his leadership, seems to be a little edgy and uncertain. it's like people don't want to bellow their anger at the guy, but they sort of want it to be known. >> yeah. and i'm not sure how bad that is for newt that they are somewhat
against his candidacy. newt, obviously, is a creature of washington. he's been here for three decades. but if you're going to try to posture as an anti-washington politician, what better way than to have members of your own party who are lawmakers in d.c. bash your candidacy? so i think newt doesn't exactly -- he's sort of welcoming this in some respects. but if you look at any of these books, look at tom coburn's book. what he writes about gingrich is hardly flattering. in fact, it's exactly the portrayal that everyone else gets, which is that this is someone who's really in it for himself and he lacks principles. >> let's take a look at the coburn sound track. we have what he has to say when he was elected to the house as part of newt's '94 resolution, but he won't support gingrich for president. this is a very conservative guy, coburn, from oklahoma. let's listen to what he told fox this weekend. >> there's a lot of candidates out there. i'm not inclined to be a supporter of newt gingrich, having served under him for four years and experienced, personally, his leadership. there's all types of leaders.
leaders that instill confidence. leaders that are somewhat abrupt and brisk. leaders that have one standard for the people that they're leading and a different standard for themselves. i just found his leadership lacking. >> pretty interesting stuff. coburn's a smart guy. i mean, a lot of -- my kids like him, one of my boys does, dana. he's got a great reputation for fiscal responsibility, that guy, and here he is, weighing in rather soberly, i'd say, against newt. >> he also, chris, has a reputation for honesty, and i don't think these guys have it in for newt for some political reason, because they're romney guys, certainly not in coburn's case. >> what you have here is sort of the classic case of newt gingrich was terrific as a revolutionary. the republican revolution of '94. he's great on the offensive when he's leading the opposition. he's a bomb thrower. but when he actually gets power, that's when it falls apart. he's not that kind of leader. he's not a consensus leader. he became vain, he became capricious, and he quickly lost the support of his ranks.
there were a couple of attempts to oust him. ultimately, successful. most of the republicans voted to reprimand him during the ethics problem. there was really no love lost there. and they were grateful for him for bringing them to power, but he was just unable to control them when in power. and that, naturally, alarms people when he might have have a whole lot more power. >> here's one guy, steven, former congressman steve latourette is another member of the '94 revolution that doesn't want to see newt make it to the white house. he told the associated press, he still has a hangover from the days of gingrich's leadership. a backer of mitt romney, he is one. "i'd rather have steady, under of his time in office -- everything always seemed to be on fire." everything was always burning, the smell of gasoline fire in the air. it always seemed to be, hey, we're making sense here as republican leaders. >> and if you're in the surrogate call for the romney campaign this morning, where they finally took the gloves off
with respect to the newt, one of the more compelling lines is they would wake up the next day, read the papers, and figure out how to put out that fire. it was just so unpredictable. with coburn, though, it was a little bit deferent. if you read his book, this was more a matter of principle. his main objections with newt were over the 1998 highway bill, which was pork-laden, and over appropriating more money for committee staffs. these were principled objectives. and i think that's almost as damages as the penalty stuff, in that newt was not a man of principle. he promised one thing and delivered quite another. >> let's take a look at this on cnn yesterday, gingrich was asked why so many of his former colleagues have criticized him. he said it was because he was an aggressive leader. let's watch. >> i think in a legislative body, there's sort of a go-along to get along collegial attitude. i wasn't there in a collegial job. i was there as the leader, and my job was to drive through change on a scale that washington wasn't comfortable with. and you know, if you're a genuine outsider forcing change, you're going to leave some bruised feelings. and i don't apologize for that.
i think i probably learned some more. i wish everybody had loved me, but i'd rather be effective representing the american people than be popular inside washington. >> "i wish everyone had loved me," dana. that reminds me of him blaming his marital breakups on his extreme patriotism. this guy can spin anything. >> he loved his country so much, he had the affair during the monica lewinsky scandal. yeah, newt's explanations aren't going to be terribly persuasive. i think that what newt is seeing now a lot is the politics that he created, this awfully vicious, bitter environment that we're living in a right now, was largely created in '94 with a whole new way of talking and dehumanizing the opposition. i think now he's finding that some of his old fellow
practitioners are now using this against him. he can't be surprised and he certainly knows how to deal with it. but i think that's another reason why you're seeing so many people turn against him, because they know how insidious this has been to our politics. >> let me just disagree with that, though. i think that answer from gingrich was actually quite brilliant. and it pits him against the congress that has a 9% approval rating. what's wrong with that from his perspective? he doesn't want to be loved by these people, these people aren't loved to begin with. >> is that true? >> is he speaking the truth? no, of course not. >> okay, thank you. >> -- had nothing to do wit. >> i just wanted to make sure. i agree. by the way -- >> when is that a criteria? >> so this guy is frank luntz with racing stripes. he is brilliant at that twist. anyway, thank you, dana milbank. thank you, sam stein. i love that. was he telling the truth? of course not. up next, where's this fight between gingrich and romney headed? could it last to the convention at tampa? this is "hardball," only on msnbc. how can you get back pain relief that lasts up to 16 hours? with thermacare heatwraps. thermacare works differently. it's the only wrap with patented heat cells that penetrate deep to relax, soothe, and unlock tight muscles
it's the hottest senate race in the country. consumer advocate elizabeth warren versus republican senator scott brown up in massachusetts. and warren has her biggest lead yet. let's go once more to the "hardball" scoreboard. here it is. elizabeth warren's up seven points now in a new "boston herald" poll, and very close to the 50-point mark. warren leads brown 49-42. that's the democrats' best takeover opportunity next year. it's looking good for warren in a race i'm definitely going to be following. in a program note, elizabeth warren is lawrence o'donnell's guest tonight at 10:00 eastern on "the last word," a great show to watch tonight. we'll be right back. [ male announcer ] cranberry juice? wake up! ♪ that's good morning, veggie style. hmmm [ male announcer ] for half the calories -- plus veggie nutrition.
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>> it means that we had a revolving fund. >> i mean, who buys $500,000 worth of jewelry on credit? >> no, it's a -- go talk to tiffany's. >> do you think a mandate -- mandating people to buy insurance is the right tool? >> brett, i don't know how many hundred times i've said this too -- this is an unusual interview. all right, let's do it again. >> commerce, education, and, um, the, um -- >> epa? >> epa, there you go. no. >> wow. we're back. those were some of the more memorable moments, embarrassing for the campaign trail this year. a new ebook has more behind-the-scene stories which reveals what some of the republican candidates were thinking in those moments. mike allen and evan thomas are co-authors of "the right fights back," that's the name of this ebook, that's available through online retailers right now. let me go to evan right now. why do you think perry got in this race?
i want to talk about one of the guys who got this in race who seems like they shouldn't have gotten in, and then some of the guys who should have gotten in, but didn't. it looks like the wrong field to me. the bench looks better than the field. evan why did perry run? he looked so ill-prepared. >> i think he got talked into it by consultant, partly, who told him it was going to be easier than it was. >> let me go to mike. why did christie stay out? >> he was the smart one in here. he looked at what happened to rick perry. he looked at how ill-prepared rick perry was for the debates, and in the book, we learned that when he should have been preparing for debates, when he should have been studying, rick perry on his plane, according to a former aide who used to fly with him, he would tell jokes, fraternity-type jokes. he would play around on his ipad. he would look at family pictures. chris christie looked at that and realized that that could be him. realized that he was not ready to go out and do a national campaign. he saw the risk of learning policy on the fly and the danger of going out there without a
national record. >> and why did palin stay out, evan? >> well, i think she wanted to get in. one of the things that's interesting in the book, she's always asking. book is she's always asking about it, she's into it, she's absorbing playbook by the second. they're actually planning to get in. but by the time she stopped thinking about it, by the time she finished thinking about it, it was really too late. >> why doesn't she do -- i mean, i assume she's reasonably intelligent. she's certainly attractive on the stump. she knows how to give a speech. why doesn't she do some homework? and i'm not knocking her intellectually here. why doesn't she prepare and then run for president? because if she'd do the homework it looks like she would be a hell of a candidate. >> yeah, chris, that's right. one of the things i could imagine her was doing what jeb bush, the former florida governor, has done with education. i could imagine her doing that with energy. that's an issue that she's knowledgeable in, interesting about. instead she more relied on her celebrity, and i think ultimately, ironically her
celebrity kept her out. she recognized that a big part of her appeal at the box office, for donations, for endorsements is her mystique. and if she got in in this crowded field and just became another fourth-place finisher in iowa, that would have been tarnished. >> is she going to -- evan, is she going to try to be a kingmaker and jump in at the right time and endoris one of the two front-runners now? >> you can be sure she's going to want to be front and center. if it's going to be a kingmaker, whatever is going to keep her out front, keep her celebrity up. mike mentioned that celebrity may be more of what this is about than being president. but she's going to want to be a force. she's going to want to -- yeah. the answer is yes. >> okay. let's go to beginning rbi, who's the most fascinating theory in this race. there's two theories about this guy. one is he's just a lucky break guy, all the other candidates fell down. he's the last one standing because he had the most baggage most obviously displayed for so many years, nobody was interested in his baggage.
that's one theory, my theory. the other theory is i'm sure he'll advance is he has like richard nixon a deep belief in timing, in contours of races, that you have to pop at the right time. which is it most credibly, mike? >> well, chris of course, i agree with your theory but i'll add to it -- >> no, which theory? which theory? that it's accident, serendipity or he's richard nixon way brilliant trickster's plan to peak at just the right time, december 2011? >> it's more b. in an interview with us weeks ago newt gingrich predicted what was going to happen. he said that going back to the spring when he lost all of his staff that he had plapd for this, that he wanted to test a new model for running for president, where you needed less organization, where you needed less money, and he was so bold about it that as you know, chris, one of the reasons that all those aides left was that they didn't like working under the thumb of his wife, calista
gingrich. she wouldn't let them stay overnight in iowa. chris, she wouldn't let him stay on the road for a couple of nights. and you know that's how you run for president. so they left largely because of that. and what did he do? he empowered her. calista gingrich is now much bigger in the campaign. in an interview newt gingrich told us that she is involved in every key e-mail chain from the campaign. now, christie worked in politics. can you imagine the candidate's spouse on every e-mail? >> no, i can't. let me go to the weird case here of failure. mitt romney, evan. mitt romney has all the cards to be president. looks, background, style, family, clean record. everything is right except something. something. >> it's that likability factor they talk about. there's a bit of a -- when you see romney talk, there's a little like there's a one-second time delay. there's something -- there's something manufactured. one of the people we talked to, mike talked, to said it was like somebody retrieving a file,
you're trying to have a conversation, and it's like they're reaching back and retrieving a file that they have to read before they're talking to you. it's not authentic. it's not natural. it makes people uncomfortable. >> hey, chris -- >> i think it reminds us of the hall of the presidents down in disney-world, where the president statues stand up and talk. your book is called -- it's an e-mail book. not an e-mail book, of course. it's an e-book. and they're very popular right now. great title. "the right fights back." another great production by evan thomas. this time co-authored with mike allen. when we return, let me finish with why democrats who want gingrich to knock off romney should be careful of what they wish for. you should always be careful of that. you're watching "hardball," only on msnbc. do your lashes want volume or length?
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let me finish tonight with this. there's intrigue afoot in this race for president. try these two undercurrents now running out there. one on the democratic side, the other on the republican. the biggest mistake you can make in politics is to assume that the other side things like you do. they're the other side precisely because they don't see things the way that you do, and that's why they're over there. look at the republicans going, lunging for newt gingrich right now. democrats think they're grazie. why would they dry gulch a solid center righty like romney who might be able to get the middle of the roaders and go go for a clear divider like gingrich in it makes no sense, democrats
figure for republicans to pick a nominee who's so spewing venom that he can't possibly win the center. well, but look at it from the conservatives' point of view. why not pick a candidate who represents me, they're asking? why not have as our nominee someone who's as angry as i am, as upset with the economy, as disgusted with president obama personally? why can't we nominate someone who feels like you do? well, that hatred of obama and wanting to have it in the republican candidate is a powerful reality today, one that shows more and more in each new poll. it's not just about what the republican conservatives are thinking. it's what they're feeling deep down. now to the second undercurrent to watch, the one on the democratic side. democrats who want obama re-elected seem to prefer newt gingrich as the nominee, believing that he'll be easier to beat. they think mitt romney's too close to the center, as i said, for safety. but be careful what you wish for. those of us working for president carter in the old days thought ronald reagan would be far easier to take down than the senior george bush. well, it turns out that we were wrong. it could just be that the republican undercurrent, a